I’m a bit of an almond butter expert. I’m pretty much a fan of anything that one can eat with the aid of a spoon (yogurt, oatmeal, ice cream…), and almond butter just about tops that list. In fact, I’ve learned not to keep it around the apartment for fear of devouring a jar in one sitting.
I’ve sampled my fair share: name brands, store brands, smooth, crunchy, fresh ground, in jars, in packets, in a box, with a fox. While there is always that hint of je ne sais quoi, that which distinguishes it from peanut butter, every style has its own appeal. The smooth variety tends to have a strong flavor and to blend seamlessly into oatmeal. The crunchy demands to be eaten on its own, as one would a butterfinger, or maybe with a glass of milk. The fresh ground doesn’t get as oily, and it’s the freshest option. And, of course, the individual serving packets, which force my hand at self control.
I was poking around the Amazon website, searching for almond butter and came across Barney Butter. When I reached out through the corporate email, the company’s president responded, agreeing to send me a few samples as well as providing information on the product.
According to the president, Ms. Dawn Kelley, Barney and Co. :
“uses premium California almonds, including Marcona (the best you can get). We use a top grade of almond vs. a lower variety that some nut butters use, and we also blanch our almonds after roasting (we take the skin off, and are the only almond butter on the market using blanched almonds). Because we blanch our almonds we have an ultra-smooth creamy texture, with no grit or bitterness. Truly a remarkable tasting product. We small batch manufacture with only the finest natural ingredients. Evaporated cane juice (just a touch), a pinch of sea salt, certified sustainable palm oil, and of course, top quality almonds. We also manufacture ourselves in our own plant, which is peanut free and safe for people with peanut allergies.”
I usually eat almond butters without sugar added, but I found Ms. Kelley’s description compelling and was glad to give the product a whirl.
When the package arrived, I opened it to find two “Snack Packs” – .6 ounces of Barney Butter each – and one 1.06 ounce Single Serving Pack. I didn’t even have the decency to wait five minutes. I immediately tore open one of the Snack Packs and paired it with a banana.
The texture was thin and just shy of runny, which was a refreshing change. Listen, I like thick almond butter as much as the next person. However, I’ve been buying another brand in single serving packets, and it’s like kneading bread just to get the almond butter to blend before opening the packet. And then I inevitably have to scrape it with my teeth when I’m done. Barney Butter, on the other hand, spread easily onto my banana. The color was also super light, and I’m guessing both of these features are attributable to the removal of the skins.
The flavor was first salty and then sweet, reminiscent of Jif or Skippy peanut butter but with a subtle almond taste. This is probably a good time to share that I try to avoid peanuts. I’m not hyper-allergic to them, but I feel better when I don’t indulge (remember, I have a lot of inflammation issues). So the Barney Butter provided a pleasant flashback to the peanut butter of my childhood.
I could most certainly see myself slathering this stuff all over rice cakes…or cookies or vanilla ice cream, for that matter. FYI, ingredients include almonds, evaporated cane juice, palm fruit oil, and sea salt; so if you’re exclusively into the all natural version (i.e. – no sugar added), this almond butter is not for you. The company carries Barney Bare, which does not contain added sugar or salt, but I didn’t sample that variety.
At .6 ounces, the Snack Pack contains: calories 90, total fat 7.5g, saturated fat .75g, sodium 50mg (1%), total carb 4g, dietary fiber 1.5g, sugars 1.5g, protein 3g. The larger pack is 1.06 ounces but strangely the nutrition facts are double; maybe it’s a rounding error.
A major downside I experienced is that my serving size felt rationed with the Snack Pack. After I was done with my banana, I wanted a couple more tastes of almond butter, but it was all gone. Perhaps you would be content with less, but I was left unsatisfied and would buy the larger packet in the future.
Another observation worth noting is that the subtle flavor doesn’t hold up well in oatmeal. I used the larger 1.06 ounce packet for a serving of oatmeal, and the flavor mostly disappeared. It by no means ruined the oatmeal, but I struggled to detect the Barney Butter flavor. Again, maybe this is due to the removal of the skins.
As far as pricing goes, Barney Butter seems to be at the premium end of the market. I compared prices on Amazon, and this is what I found:
|cost||ounces||per ounce cost|
|Barney Butter smooth 16oz jars||$ 22.69||48||$0.47|
|Barney Butter smooth 10oz jars||$ 16.56||30||$0.55|
|Barney Butter .6 oz packets||$ 10.71||14.4||$0.74|
|Barney Butter 1.6 oz packets||$ 20.00||25.44||$0.79|
|Maranatha Costco||$ 6.99||26||$0.27|
|Justin’s 32 ounce packets – honey||$ 23.14||34.5||$0.67|
|Justin’s jars 16oz – honey||$ 25.62||48||$0.53|
I recognize that my table doesn’t create an apples-to-apples comparison of products. After all, some of those almond butters have added sugars, some are in the form of convenient single serving packets, and others are in large jars. Yet, the table generally achieves its intended purpose: a “bang for your buck” comparison.
As you can see, the almond butter available at Costco blows all of the other options out of the water in terms of price. I daresay it’ll be extremely difficult for me to turn down that option for my A.T. hike given the price, especially considering the large quantity I intend to consume over the six month trek. However, in the meantime, I seriously plan to begin purchasing the individual serving packets to keep at the office. Keep in mind that I buy the single servings for portion control anyway; measured against my current brand, Barney Butter wins hands-down. Not only is the salty/sweet taste delicious, but not having to aggressively scrape the packet in an attempt to free a thick butter from the edges of the wrapping is worth the small price premium.